Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recurring Nightmare

Graphic taken from the official Nightmare on Chicago Street website.

Elgin was one of the scariest suburbs in the Chicago area last year when it staged a full-blown zombie outbreak on the Saturday night preceding Halloween. There were overturned cars on Chicago Street; entire areas were in quarantine; and the living dead roamed freely, searching for victims. TV monitors set up at various spots around town flashed news bulletins and helpful tips from a zombie expert, as well as a press conference with the mayor.

The wildly ambitious Nightmare On Chicago Street was a cooperative effort by Elgin officials - - including the actual mayor - - and local artists, filmmakers, actors, and businesses. Live hard rock bands were invited, along with special guests like TV horror show host, Svengoolie. Street performers, food vendors (selling actual food, not human flesh), and a multitude of visitors in costumes, added to the spooky fun.

Once again, Elgin officials have turned to resident and artist Dave Metzger for help in making its zombie fest chillingly realistic. He and Jeff Kelley, the host/creator of the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff Internet show, shot several zombie-related bits for last year’s Nightmare, including a few TV commercials. Kelley edited the footage into entertaining sound bites. Metzger used to work with my wife Pam, and had a recurring role as a Beatles button-obsessed lunatic on the Manchester Gallery” series I created for SMCWJ. In 2011, he asked if I could play the expert on zombies for a clip he was doing for Nightmare, and I had a blast doing it.

So I was glad to help out again when Metzger recently sent a script my way for this year’s event. I would be playing a right wing fanatic on a parody of Point/Counterpoint. Willy Deal, who creates the “On The Road With Willy” segments on SMCWJ, would serve as the moderator, and another gentleman would play my adversary. After meeting Willy and his wife Lisa at the Crystal Lake train station, I hitched a ride with them to Elgin.

We found Metzger and Kelley filming a scene at Acme Design, an Elgin-based company that creates three-dimensional sculptures and models for events, including a life-size TARDIS for Doctor Who conventions. Acme Design had created a 1950s style diner in its building. After wrapping up at the diner, we were off to the Elgin town hall, where a pleasant and helpful government worker led us to the main room.

Kelley filmed a series of fake news spots with an anchor, reporter, and weather forecaster, before Willy and I got to do our thing, along with a volunteer who had only been approached the day before about portraying my opponent in the debate. The guy told me afterward that he had never acted before, but he did a great job establishing his character while reading the cue cards.

The newly-filmed bits will be combined with last year’s footage and shown on TVs around Elgin when Nightmare On Chicago Street returns this Saturday, October 27th, from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Svengoolie will be back again, and this year’s bands include Hairbangers Ball and V Is For Villains. Admission is $10.

Metzger is also organizing the Monster Mash-Up event on Friday and Saturday of that same weekend in Elgin. It’s a mix of vintage B-movie monster flicks, artists, special guests, and live music. 

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